Between Linux and Anime

Kind of like Schrodinger's Cat

Summer 2011 Brainmarks!

Q: Wait wha?
This is basically me jumping on the season preview/season impression posts bandwagon that basically contains just about every other aniblogger except me. Since I’m actually checking out the entire spectrum of shows with my housemate nowadays I figured it’s finally time.

Q: …”Brainmarks”?
Picture the entire season’s offerings swirling around in a state of interminable chaos in your feral brain. Now picture fishing a number of shows out of that mess and pinning it up neatly – marking them for further exploration and investigation. That’s making brainmarks, and that’s what this post does for you. As a bonus I even rank them. And yes, I like inventing words (remember photoogling?).

Q: Aren’t you just jelly about Blogsuki’s aptly named “Thin-slicing” posts?
Why not at all. Whoever gave you that idea? *whistle*

Q: Uh okay. So basically any show that appears here is great, and any that doesn’t sucks?
Well, no- maybe. Lousy shows obviously won’t show up here, but I may give shows that use mostly recycled material/strategies a pass as well, even if they are relatively well done and entertaining. Conversely, not so well executed shows that do something interesting or that show potential for interesting development may show up, but there is of course no guarantee those won’t go quickly to the shitpits. Basically the most relevant metric here is “potential interestingness”.

Q: Jason moofang’s fuzzy definition of interestingness you mean

Q: Shouldn’t this really be called “Jason moofang’s guttural nearly-arbitrary ranking of nearly arbitrarily selected shows” then?
No- well…

Fine, be that way.

Brainmark #6: Kami-sama Dolls

I think Summer 2011 is a pretty plentiful season as far as potential goes. Whether or not it turns out to be a great time will depend heavily on whether or not shows like Kami-sama Dolls deliver on the little bits of juiciness scattered across its premise. To be honest I’m a little afraid to hold my breath here. I very nearly dropped Kami-sama Dolls from this list after a severely underwhelming second episode. There is however some potential in the set up. The mech designs are reminiscent of the Angels of Eva, and combined with the heavy spiritual association may suggest that they are more than what they seem. They are even named dolls, and the implications of this can be a fun thing to play with if the identity of these mechs become a prominent plot point. This overlayed over a spunky loli with confidence and stubbornness issues and her overprotective aniki who had deliberately ran away from his identity and who had once been associated with the same doll could lead to some nice character dynamics and development. If jabs of ethical philosophy ever start subtly coming into play, that would likely be when this show’s existence on this list is justified.

UPDATE: well the show ended up diving into some weakly executed drama and seems to be attempting to get by with some flashy robot battles and shounen-ish, facepalm-inducing angst. I am disappoint! Dropped -_-

Brainmark #5: Kami-sama no Memo Chou

If you thought Gosick was a goldmine of potential destroyed by the sludge of unpleasant textbook villains, occasional ruinously bad dialogue and essentially nonexistent character development, well, Kami-sama no Memo Chou may be a second chance. Alice and Victorique are uncannily similar – both locked up in their own little world with their amazing intellect and both sporting an equally commanding serious-mode and an equally disarming pout-mode. There however appears to be a key motivational difference. Victorique had always been a pawn of larger forces at play, forces which she struggles against, and thus her motivations tend to be situational. Her detective work is often employed onto a problem into which she finds herself thrown. Alice on the other hand seems to be truly removed, and is thus in a way a master of her own destiny – there is no one she needs to answer to save for herself. I think this is the true implication of the “NEET detective” title, even though, as some people have pointed out, they appear to be enterprising small business owners.

A detective is fundamentally the Speaker of the Deceased
We dig out the lost words from the bottom of the graves
Harm the living to protect the honor of the dead
And disgrace the dead to comfort the living.

Investigation that does not care about what it finds, investigation for it’s own sake, rather than as a means to an end. It is an intriguing idea I think, and one that could make a decidedly delighting show if explored deftly. As a bonus, there appears to be no primary villain in this show, but a more Durarara-esque mesh of multi-directional motivations. And also, the main guy doesn’t look quite as terribad as Kujo… yet.

Brainmark #4: Dantalian no Shoka

On paper there isn’t a lot to write home about in this show. None of the magical ideas are novel and the setting of finding a spunky and pretty female who turns out to be more than meets the eye is more or less staple in the realms of anime by now. Where Dantalian no Shoka shines is in its execution. This may not be Gainax’s best animation work, but the quality of the directing and the immaculate and inspired BGM-visual synchrony really made this show feel amazing. And you know what? The truth of the matter is that the “unlocking of magical powers” idea was never the problem with the endless tired repetitions of shows relying on it, at least for folks like me. The problem is more often than not with execution – with attention to detail. Notice in the climatic scenes of episode one that the sounds of the physical events faded discreetly away leaving the violin and piano glissandos to accompany the swirling magicks on screen. Magic isn’t just about looking flashy – Gainax’s portrayal gave the magic a satisfying sense of potency, ancientness and enigma, and that left me pretty moved.

(and somewhat appalled, I suppose, by the fact that the scene I had just witnessed could really have been summarised as “Man pulls ancient tome from loli’s chest at an opportune moment and defeats dragon by reading said book”).

I’m actually pretty optimistic about this show. As noted, it isn’t even all that smart and really it doesn’t quite need to be too smart – it mostly just needs to keep doing what its doing.

Bonus: Main guy is pretty aptly voiced by Ono Daisuke and is pretty darned competent. Bonus2: Main girl speaks in old-ish accent that I perhaps somewhat inappropriately find attractive. I blame Horo.

Brainmark #3: Ikoku Meiro no Croisee

Reason 1 to watch this show: Yune. Reason 2 to watch this show: Paris. Reason 3? I wrote a thousand-word post on the first episode. Need I say more?

Brainmark #2: Mawaru Penguindrum

This is a delightfully intriguing show, in large part because it’s just so hard to pin down. Episode one began with the exposition of Himari’s predicament in a storm of angst, and then smoothly transitioned into a light-hearted slice-of-life depicting the sibling’s lives, and then tumbles headlong into Himari’s sudden death. And before the ensuing angst even settles the show quickly flings itself into an incredulous spiral of bewildering events, as the hat and the penguins are tossed on screen and stuffed into our faces and underscored for good measure with an outrageous and elaborate henshin sequence. Wow, this show changes moods so frequently it’s insane and yet so liquidly it’s masterful. Even the visuals are stylish and somewhat idiosyncratic. See how the stickmen you usually find on toilet doors prowl the streets:

Quite the ride so far really. Frankly I have no idea where this is going, but the heady chaos has been a delicious enough one so far that I’m totally psyched to find out more.

Brainmark #1: Usagi Drop

Production IG rolls out a quiet and exceedingly tasteful show about a man adopting the illegitimate child of his grandfather – his six-year-old aunt, as peculiar as that sounds. There is a lot to like about this show: the somewhat minimalistic art style, the gradual shift from sparse watercolors to detailed shades and shadows as the show progresses, the aptly done BGM, the well animated characters. Gluing the entire experience together is an immaculate pacing and a beautiful economy of words. So much is told in the quiet moments of the episode, through meaningful glances, through underscoring Rin’s speechlessness and general detachment, through following her as she wanders her way around the house without anybody sparing her a glance, through contrasting her existence with that of the noisy kid Reina. Rin also wields a quiet, introverted sort of cuteness that rivals Ikoku’s Yune in potency, while Daikichi is clumsy yet connected enough to his new little charge to make a likable lead we can cheer on. Everything about this show just fits together so seamlessly, pleasantly, yet movingly. In many ways Usagi Drop is the perfect opposite of Mawaru Penguindrum. Both are perhaps nigh equal in enjoyability and potential, but I have a perhaps stronger love for quiet subtlety, tasteful poignancy and deep character exploration. And going by what I’ve seen so far, Usagi Drop may just be poised to deliver convincingly on all three fronts.

By the way, yes I’ve seen some semi-spoilerish comments about the eventual direction of the Usagi Drop manga. I have deliberately left that out of consideration here. An anime production can be quite distinct from its source, so I say let Production IG roll their thing, and we’ll see what happens.

Honorable Mention: Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu Ni

Frankly, this isn’t a very “interesting” show, and thus its absence from the brainmarks list. It is still a pretty darn entertaining show though, and if you need any further convincing, let me just drop you a friendly reminder here that Kirishima Shouko-sama is in this show.

Prepare your offerings nao.

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Ikoku Meiro no Croisee 01 – waku waku!


Update your links, for I have succumbed


  1. ZW

    I notice that the list is populated exclusively with lolies. Coincidence? Me thinks not.

  2. Jason "moofang"

    Well now that you mention it. Still, I challenge you to find a random sample of anime in which less than 90% of them contain lolis. Lolis are a fact of life :D

  3. Yep you would be hard pressed to find an anime these days that does not have any lolis at all. But sometimes it’s not as bad as it may seem. For example, Rin in usagi drop has somehow more real type loli rather than the generic otaku standard.

    Anyway I am watching most of the things that you have on your list here and my priority is about the same. Except for Kami-sama no Memo Chou. I am not watching that one, something about the characters there I just really can not stand. The male lead really did not strike me as particularly intelligent, actually he did not strike me as interesting at all.

    Oh, and kamisama dolls is a bit higher on my list than yours. Especially at the end of the most recent episode. It definitely earned some awesome points. That was episode three.

    And yea, pinguindrum has been a ride so far – I am really disappointed at myself for spoiling the point of the second episode. Read it on a blog somewhere I think. Or twitter perhaps.

  4. Jason "moofang"

    Speaking of Rin in Usagi Drop, I just recently found out that she’s voiced by a real loli. Interesting fact.

    It’s true that KamiMemo doesn’t have the most interesting characters, except potentially Alice, but I think that the setting built up so far has some potential. The male lead, well, you learn not to put hopes in male leads in anime :P At least he’s (still) better than Gosick’s Kujo, if you watched that.

    I haven’t gotten to ep 3 of KamiDolls, but sounds like there’s something to look forward to there. Awesome. I was afraid it’s going to be just like ep 2 and I’ll be made to look silly for recommending it.

  5. Eri

    Commentary #6: I may be in denial sometimes but looks really strike my eye. And Kami-sama Dolls striked it A LOT. IN A BAD WAY. So I dropped…

    Commentary #5: Why? Why does GoSick have to be the new comparison standard for every new show that includes a loli detective and a male assistant (at least). I am positive there have been other shows before GoSick featuring that “oh so lame” set-up as well.

    Commentary #4: Plot is not original indeed. But the BGM does its job very neatly. I am amused~ If GAINAX had attended more to the animation details it would have taken Dantalian No Shoka three (’cause one is small and two is the very next obvious) steps further.

    Commentary #3: 1.Yune =/= Original 2. I hate Paris o.O 3. That’s a good reason and prolly why I’m still checking this show out.

    Commentary #2: Words are futile. This show has captivated me~

    Commentary #1: I don’t even wanna go there. The animation freaks me out and the storyline is too “meeeeh” for me. I need more entertainment in my life. Still, I can understand why some people enjoy watching this. It’s just not my cup of tea.

  6. Jason "moofang"

    @Eri: Oh hello!

    Re KamiDolls: so you mean you don’t like the art style? I thought it was rather normal and undistinct.

    Re KamiMemo:

    Why? Why does GoSick have to be the new comparison standard for every new show that includes a loli detective and a male assistant (at least).

    It is? I just brought it (Gosick) up here because I just finished it and thought it makes a convenient comparison (since it uses the same oh-so-lame setup and all), and also to point out how KamiMemo may not fall into some of Gosick’s terrible pitfalls. So no, not a standard or anything, just a convenient comparison. Don’t eat mi xP

    Re DantaShoka: Agreed but I guess Gainax has been known to be somewhat inconsistent with their animation quality. DantaShoka at least has the more important parts (ie the magic) nailed.

    Re Croisee: Well Yune’s more in the ‘cute’ and ‘well-behaved’ category than ‘original’ really. But then again if you’ve read that thousand-word post I thought Claude was the more interesting character. And Paris makes for such captivating background art, so why teh hate? :P

    Re Penguindrum: no objections there.

    Re Usagi Drop: Granted, this may not be everybody’s thing (then again, what is?). But I thought the animation was great, unless you’re talking about the somewhat unorthodox art style. But then I thought that was great too.

  7. Eri

    Re: Re KamiDolls: It’s computer graphics are completely outdated. It seems like someone has used MS Paint on it quite badly…

    Re: Re KamiMemo: It would be fine if it was just you. EVERYONE I know has made AT LEAST ONE comparison to GoSick…

    Re: Re DantaShoka: In the realistic style they are indeed a bit inconsistent but they do an amazing job with diverse styles that escape realism (read. Panty & Stocking)

    Re: Re Croisee: That ‘cute’ and ‘well-behaved’ is what lacks in originality; Too stereotypical. I hate Paris IRL so that hatred transfers to anime as well.

    Re: Re Penguindrum: -thumbs up-

    Re: Re Usagi Drop: I’m a perfectionist, of course I’d be annoyed by unorthodox~

  8. Jason "moofang"

    Re: Re: Re KamiDolls: Ah~ yes. The CG was pretty atrocious. There wasn’t a lot of it though, most of the stuff were drawn.

    (Want lots of outdated CG? Watch Appleseed XIII ;) )

    Re: Re: Re KamiMemo: Well Gosick just ended it’s run so maybe it’s on everyone’s mind atm. Seasonal hazard perhaps?

    Re: Re: Re DantaShoka: Not a fan of Panty and Stocking’s style, but I guess Gainax put their backs into it. Don’t think they did anything else quite like that one though.

    Re: Re: Re Croisee: I dunno, most notable lolis I can think of are around the “super-capable bro-con” or “adorably clumsy” or “extremely obnoxious Tsundere” territory. Full on Yamato Nadeshikos are actually pretty rare in loli-dom. Still, I get your drift.

    Re: Re: Re Penguindrum: (´・ω <`)b

    Re: Re: Re Usagi Drop: To nitpick just for the heck of it, that implies the orthodox style is "perfect". Not sure if that's the case ;)

  9. I think gosick is actually very close to dantalian – in terms of style and feel. KamiMemo feels different from gosick to me.

    And wow I had no idea that they sometimes get kids to voice lolis. That must be rare.

  10. Jason "moofang"

    Oddly enough my housemate just said the same last night. I guess it _is_ the season of Gosick references after all o_O I think KamiMemo is closer to Gosick in terms of content and direction, but I guess Dalian acts more similar to Victorique for one and having occult/magic as a prominent common theme (as well as the European setting) may make DantaShoka feel more similar to Gosick.

    And yeah, Rin is the first character I am aware of that is voiced by a real kid. Honestly I cannot quite tell the difference from most of the other better-voiced lolis – I liked Rin’s voice but I just assumed it was a regular seiyuu. Apparently RP could appreciate the difference though.

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